Great collection by Wheatley. This book consists of a number of essays on the subject of, well, witchcraft and satanism, along with a few stories, a gGreat collection by Wheatley. This book consists of a number of essays on the subject of, well, witchcraft and satanism, along with a few stories, a grimoire, and some anonymous documents on the summoning of spirits, pacts with Satan, and so forth.
It consists of:
An account of necromancy from Cellini's Life
An essay by Sax Rohmer (Fu Manchu tales) on witch-finders (i.e. Matthew Hopkins)
William Godwin (father of Frankenstein author Mary Shelley) on the Lancashire witches.
A story by the otherwise unfindable (at least by me) "Robert Anthony" about witch-hunters that has a very cruel twist.
An account of the Volsin affair by Ronald Seth
A piece by Murray on initiation into covens
P.T. Barnum mocking the idea of spells and magic
A writing by Cotton Mather, famous Puritan, who oversaw many of the Salem witch trials, on such a trial.
A short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne, here called "The Salem Mass" but otherwise famously known as "Young Goodman Brown."
A short excerpt, according to Wheatley from Crowley's Confessions, but I believe from his Moonchild about a black magic ritual
A piece by Betty May Lovejoy, who was hostile to Crowley after her husband died from disease at his Abbey of Thelema, about a black magic working by Crowley involving the sacrifice of a stray cat.
Elliot O'Donnell, on the ghosts of prehistoric plant life.
O'Donnell again on vampires, werewolves and fox-women. The O'Donnell pieces are sort of the highlight of the book. O'Donnell is truly a bizarre man.
Robert Graves, alleging that the 'witch cult' of Murray is actually due to the influence of Sufi groups that mingled with Celtic peoples during the Muslim conquest of Spain.
An indictment against people for witchcraft.
A how-to on making a pact with Satan.
A how-to on raising spirits.
An excerpt from the so-called "Black Goat of Brandenburg," supposedly a grimoire.
Accounts from witches in Sweden of their nocturnal revels.
Six rather boring essays from Wheatley emphasizing the difference between "white" and "black" magic. Fortunately, they are short.
The whole of The Secret Grimoire Of Turiel, the complete text of this grimoire.
While Wheatley's essays are rather dull, the rest is much more fun, and Elliott O'Donnell's pieces are definitely the best parts of the book, as they consist of much weirdness and lunacy; one assumes O'Donnell is putting one on when he records seeing vampires that look nothing like animated corpses, suggests that these vampires "suck out brain cells" and cause retardation ("idiocy") and epilepsy, and talks about the spirits of prehistoric plant life and how his Holy Guardian angel taught him that Christ is the truth.
There is no published biography of O'Donnell, though crime-writer and Ripperologist Richard Whittington-Egan was said (according to Wikipedia) to have been working on such a book, there's no evidence of its publication - a shame. I'd love to read it.
It also bears similarity to a book by Peter Haining, who published and edited many books on paranormal subjects, called "The Necromancers."
As the greatest man on the Internet, Fearlono, once said: "I think every 3rd Monday should be 'Peter Haining Day' across the UK. Schoolchildren would be encouraged to read from his many wonderful guidebooks, fun for all the family as a random selection of graves are opened and explored, all cars to be crushed into dust, and anyone who elects not to take part would be beaten in public by old men dressed as green goats."
I wholly support this and would gladly both move to England and enroll any children I have into the English school system of Parliament passes this brilliant idea and makes it law.
As someone with a fascination with linguistics, madness and gentleman British academics, this seemed a shoe-in for me. I first saw it at a Barnes andAs someone with a fascination with linguistics, madness and gentleman British academics, this seemed a shoe-in for me. I first saw it at a Barnes and Noble, but didn't have the money to procure it then, so I filed it away as a "to-buy" in the future.
A few days ago, I was in a local used bookstore and could no longer resist the temptation. I read it in a matter of days, and genuinely liked it.
While some of the weaknesses others have mentioned - such as Winchester's psychic ability to determine what everyone was thinking and feeling during his 'narrative' sequences - are certainly appropriate, I still found the book to be genuinely enjoyable, and I look forward to reading his book on the making of the OED.
Simply put, the book is about two men. One was an amateur lexicographer with a keen love of languages whose intelligence lifted him above his impoverished beginnings. The other was an educated Army officer in the US during the Civil War, who was voracious reader - and also had an emotional breakdown that led to an onset of paranoia and, ultimately, to his murdering an innocent coal shoveler on his way to work, and his incarceration in Broadmoor Hospital, an asylum for the criminally insane.
One helmed the OED, the other contributed greatly to it - and both became friends, on top of it.
It's a really excellent book, all things considered, and I highly recommend it....more
First off, the bad - there are way too many people to keep track of, and no 'Dramatis Personæ' to aid one in sorting them out when one forgets who isFirst off, the bad - there are way too many people to keep track of, and no 'Dramatis Personæ' to aid one in sorting them out when one forgets who is who. Thus, a star was deducted.
This is not a biography of To Mega Therion, but instead uses his life to support its central thesis - that Crowley was a British secret agent. While the documentation is lacking (naturally), absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, and its absence, given how notorious Crowley was, is certainly something to be noted.
There were simply too many odd coincidences, Crowley simply knew too many actual Agents, for it all to simply be a hallucination by the author. Crowley himself drops repeated hints to this aspect of his life in his own writing, which Spence amply documents.
An intriguing look at a more political, less magical Crowley....more